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Laguna Beach

Police Files

Grenade found in local’s wall, Bomb Squad removes it

On Saturday, Feb 16, at 5:43 p.m., at the 1600 block of Thurston Drive, LBPD received a report of a found hand grenade on a fire block with the release lever missing. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The residents had recently moved into the home and found an old hand grenade in a garage wall while making renovations.”

Police Files Grenade found

Courtesy of LBPD

Hand grenade found in garage wall while making renovations

 “Two members of the OCSD Bomb Squad responded. An X-ray of the grenade showed that it contained no filler, but they collected it in case it contained any residual powder. The device is believed to be a World War I era British hand grenade,” Sgt Cota said.

Husband struck crossing S Coast Hwy still in grave condition 

Last Wednesday, Feb 13, LBPD officers responded to a vehicle versus pedestrian collision on South Coast Hwy at Mountain Road. A husband and wife were crossing S Coast Hwy from the inland side to the ocean side. They had crossed the northbound lanes and the number one southbound lane, where a vehicle stopped. 

As the male crossed into the number two southbound lane, he was struck by a southbound vehicle who had failed to stop.

“The injured male is 79 years old and still in grave condition. He is from Indio, California and was here on his anniversary,” Sgt Cota said. “The injuries to the male were severe and he was transported to Mission Hospital, Mission Viejo. Alcohol was not a factor. The traffic investigation is ongoing.”

Locals report encountering mountain lion while hiking

According to Nextdoor, a hiker who lives in Bluebird Canyon recently encountered a mountain lion while hiking to Laurel Canyon Waterfall in Laguna Beach. Right before he and fellow hikers found the falls they had a brief standoff with the large wildcat, he reports.

“From about 20 yards, the large cat turned to us to decide what to do while we stood frozen. We barely had enough time to just broaden our shoulders, in an attempt to seem larger, and he turned on the trail and trotted away. We continued with caution yelling calls and tossing rocks into the bush. 

We brandished club size sticks whacking at bushes along the trail. There were no signs of tracks and no more sightings. Anyone planning to hike there should be aware that a big cat roams that territory. We would not have been carelessly walking the trail so quietly if we had known the danger that could be around the next corner. 

Remember to always have a plan in the wild and continue to make noise so predators make themselves scarce well before you unexpectedly come upon them. Good luck, stay safe.”

Several locals on Nextdoor responded to the post saying they also had mountain lion sightings in Laguna Beach over the years.

Bus gets stuck on Agate Street, needs to be pulled out

Police Files Bus Stuck

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Keith Greer

On Sunday, Feb 17, around 9 a.m., a bus reportedly tried to go up Agate Street next to Mozambique and got stuck. The bus had to be jacked up and pulled out via a semi-trailer wrecker. It took at least an hour.

Police Files

Husband struck by car while walking with wife in grave condition

On Wednesday, Feb 13, at 7:14 p.m., LBPD officers responded to a vehicle versus pedestrian traffic collision on S Coast Hwy at Mountain Road. According to reports, a husband and wife were crossing S Coast Hwy from the inland side to the ocean side. They had crossed the northbound lanes and the number one southbound lane. A southbound vehicle in the number one southbound lane had stopped as the couple entered that lane. 

“As the male crossed into the number two southbound lane, he was struck by a southbound vehicle who had failed to stop,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “The injuries to the male were severe and he was transported to Mission Hospital, Mission Viejo. Alcohol was not a factor. The traffic investigation is ongoing.”

Duo busted for meth and heroin, male brings drug contraband into jail

On Monday, Feb 1, at 12:50 a.m., an officer conducted a traffic stop at S Coast Hwy and Jasmine Street. An investigation was conducted and a background check revealed Oceanside resident Beau Aguirre had an outstanding no bail warrant from San Diego. Officer Kraus also located heroin inside of his vehicle. 

“Aguirre was on probation and a probation hold was placed on him,” Sgt Cota said. “The female passenger, Natalie Gholomhossani, was also arrested for possession of methamphetamine and heroin.” 

They were both transported to LBPD for booking. In the jail, Aguirre was seen by Jailer Salgado attempting to put some type of contraband in his private parts.

“A strip search was conducted and a bindle of drugs was seen. Aguirre refused to remove the bindle. Aguirre was placed in the holding cell while being prepared to be transported to MHLB,” Sgt Cota said. “Prior to his transport, Aguirre can be seen on the jail cameras extracting the bindle of drugs, ripping the plastic bag, and then shoving it into the drain of the holding cell that contained water destroying it.” 

Aguirre was medically cleared and taken to OCJ. Gholomhossani was booked and released with a court date.

Natalie Gholomhossani, 20, of Laguna Niguel, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and a narcotic controlled substance. Bail was set at $1,000.

Beau Campbell Aguirre, 23, Oceanside, was arrested for being in possession of controlled substance paraphernalia, a narcotic controlled substance, bringing a controlled substance into jail, and violating probation. No bail was set.

Read more Police Files on our Front Page II – click here

Police Files (Cont.)

Storms rain havoc and destruction with flooding across the City, resulting in downtown and Canyon closures

A winter storm forecasted to hit Laguna Beach and the Southern California area this week packed a punch as promised, causing flooding in the Canyon and downtown areas especially on Thursday, Feb 14, resulting in myriad closures around the City.

LagunaCanyonFlooding one

Click on photo for a larger image 

Photo by Marielena Verdugo

The Canyon was hit hard with flooding on Thursday

On Tuesday morning, Laguna Beach sent out a Nixle warning in anticipation of storm: “The Weather Service is advising a winter storm which will impact Laguna Beach Wednesday - Thursday.”

The warning said to expect intermittent periods of rain and potential localized flooding. During the storm, some homes were flooded and businesses had to close.

On Thursday at 10:33 a.m., the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach advised that the Canyon branch was closed due to flooding and that, “Top of the World, El Morro, and Thurston District Club members will be rerouted to the Lang Park Branch at 21540 Wesley Drive.” The Boys & Girls Club also strongly urged parents to pick up their children directly from school because of the severe weather.

LagunaCanyonFlooding two

Click on photo for a larger image 

Photo by Marielena Verdugo

The storm channel on the verge of collapsing, succumbs to the elements

Four minutes later, a Nixle alert was put out at 10:37 a.m., reporting, “Localized flooding is currently occurring on Laguna Canyon Road at El Toro Road. Use caution when driving.” 

The warning swiftly changed, alerting that many areas in Laguna had been heavily impacted by flooding. The Canyon was closed between Canyon Acres and El Toro Road, as well as both directions of El Toro Road at the 73 Toll Road, and downtown at Broadway Street between Beach Street and Coast Highway. The closures remained in effect all day, anticipated to last until at least 5 p.m., according to Nixle.

The storm channel collapsed between the Boys & Girls Club and the Sawdust, causing additional strife.

LagunaCanyonFlooding three

Click on photo for a larger image 

Photo by Marielena Verdugo

Some places roar like the Colorado River down the Canyon

The Susi Q Center opened its doors and was activated as a care and reception center/shelter for people in need and their pets because of safety concerns.

At 3:45 p.m., City Digital Communications Coordinator Jennifer Chapman reported on Nextdoor: “The rain has largely finished for today. The forecast calls for light, scattered showers this evening. We may have additional rain showers on Sunday. All downtown streets are open again. Evacuations have been lifted for Sun Valley Road and all others evacuated from low-lying areas in Laguna Canyon, including clients of the Alternate Sleeping Location. 

LagunaCanyonFlooding four

Click on photo for a larger image 

Photo by Marielena Verdugo

Land and trees are swallowed up

Clients of the ASL are being transported back to the ASL from the Neighborhood Congregational Church. CalTrans crews are working remove debris to reopen Laguna Canyon Road. However, residents with proper identification may return to their homes.

The beach access points for Treasure Island, Crescent Bay, Bluebird, Victoria, Boat Canyon, [and] Main Beach…are closed. We are informally calling this ‘The Love Storm’ because it occurred on Valentine’s Day. This is the final update for the day.”


Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Marielena Verdugo

Both sides of the Canyon get buried in water

Nixle helped too offering a sigh of relief when it was reported that all downtown closures had been lifted as of 4 p.m. “Downtown businesses and restaurants should be open for Valentine’s.”

It wasn’t until 5:58 p.m. that Laguna Canyon Road was open in both directions.

Stu News readers reported flooding and damage, but the exact amount is still unknown.

The Montage Resort too suffered a fallen eucalyptus tree, as reported by Stu News reader John Trevino of Villa Real Estate. He said, “I’m glad it didn’t fall on PCH.”

John Trevino 2

Click on photo for a larger image 

Photo by John Trevino

A eucalyptus tree falls at the Montage blocking a walkway

The rain total in Laguna Beach has been 2.87 inches over the past two days and 3.03 inches over the past three days, according to OC Public Works.

Mother Nature makes a splash 

LagunaCanyonFlooding waterfalls MarielenaVerdugo 25

Click on photo for a larger image 

Photo by Marielena Verdugo

Local Marielena Verdugo captures waterfalls in the Canyon caused by the storm

LagunaCanyon waterfall

Click on photo for a larger image 

Photo by Marielena Verdugo

The ‘Valentine’s Day Storm’ brought new perspective to the Canyon 

Police Files

Suspected DUI driver arrested following high-risk pursuit in the canyon

On Sunday, Feb 10, at 2:52 a.m., an LBPD officer was in the canyon near the dog park when she began to follow a possible DUI driver driving a 2014 BMW 535i outbound on Laguna Canyon Road.

“The officer attempted to initiate a traffic stop on the vehicle near the 73 Toll Road. The vehicle did not yield or react in any way,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “The officer went in pursuit of the vehicle. After a short distance, the vehicle yielded. A high-risk vehicle stop was initiated and the driver was ultimately detained.”

A DUI investigation was conducted and the driver was identified. Joseph Paul Digiulio, 23, of Newport Beach, was arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Bail was set at $2,500.

Heavy rain a real downer for trees

The deluge of rain and high wind over the past few weeks has been a real downer for trees in Laguna Beach, literally, with reports of downed trees. Sadly, the saga continues with two more logged into the LBPD police logs. 

On Saturday, Feb 9, at 11:04 a.m., at the 700 block of Wilson Street, LBPD received a report referencing a tree falling on electrical wires. According to police records, the tree in the backyard had fallen into wires and the wires were hanging low. Edison was called.

Later that same day, at 3:01 p.m., LBPD received a report in reference to a fallen tree biting the dust at the 600 block of Cliff Drive. According to police records, “the large tree fell onto the walkway, blocking the stairs.” No one was injured and LBPD called Public Works. According to police logs, a tree cutting service was enroute to cut the tree down. Public Works remained on scene until the service arrived.

Looking ahead – it seems more rain is on its way, along with wind gusts as high as 25 mph on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Diamond found near Naked Dog

On Wednesday, Feb 6, at 4:21 p.m., LBPD received a report in reference to found property. According to police records, the RP found a diamond ring near the Naked Dog Bistro on Forest Avenue, also near Laguna Beach Animal Hospital.

The RP was asked to fill out a finders’ affidavit. If you or someone you know lost their diamond ring by the Naked Dog, call LBPD’s non-emergency line at (949) 497-0701.

Police Files

Suspected explosive device closes Thalia St Beach 

On Tuesday, Feb 5, at 4:56 pm, LBPD officers responded to a suspicious item that washed up on Thalia Street Beach, at the 100 block of Thalia Street. The RP was advised not to handle it.

“Officers and Laguna Beach Lifeguards arrived on scene and located a small cylindrical canister. It was identified as a Naval sea marker,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “OCSD Bomb Squad was contacted, the beach was closed off, and officers along with LB lifeguards remained on scene.”

Police Files Explosive Device

Courtesy of LBPD

A suspicious device washed up at Thalia Street Beach, closing the beach – OCSD Bomb Squad was called in 

 OCSD Bomb Squad arrived a short time later and removed the canister for disposal. The sea marker was described to be silver and 18 inches in length, with “CCC” on the side, according to police reports.

Alleged battery at library, woman transported to hospital

On Monday, Feb 4, at 4:43 p.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to the Laguna Beach Library parking lot, at the 300 block of Glenneyre Street, in reference to a battery investigation. 

“The victim advised that her boyfriend, Javier Blas, kneed her in the stomach and fled,” Sgt Cota said. “She was transported to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach for complaint of pain.”

Police Files BlasAccording to police records, the RP reported that the “suspect put his knee in her ribs and cracked a rib.”

Javier Hommy Blas, 32, of Laguna Beach, was located at Main Beach and taken into custody on domestic battery charges.

Bail was set at $10,000.

According to Stu News Laguna records, Blas was previously arrested by LBPD on October 10, 2018 for allegedly carrying a concealed dirk or dagger, and on December 29, 2018 for possession of alcohol in a public place and obstructing/resisting arrest.

Taken to the cleaners: iPhone stolen at laundromat

On Monday, Feb 4, at 5:04 p.m., an LBPD officer was dispatched in response to a petty theft report in the 1000 block of South Coast Highway. 

“The victim stated that his Apple iPhone 8 was stolen from the laundromat. He stated that he had his Apple iPhone charging in a wall charger as he went outside to put laundry in his vehicle,” Sgt Cota said.

According to the victim, he placed a magazine over the phone so it wouldn’t look obvious. He was away from the phone for less than one minute and then it was taken.

The value of loss was approximately $600. The case will be submitted to detectives to see if any surveillance cameras recorded the theft.

Police Files

Trolley driver attacked, suspect allegedly spits on officers

On Saturday, Feb 2, at 1:48 p.m., LBPD officers responded to 3rd Ave and S Coast Hwy for a battery that had allegedly just occurred involving a city trolley driver. 

According to police records, “The driver was slapped. The suspect left on foot southbound on the ocean side.”

 The suspect was described as having a black moustache and beard, and wearing a black hoodie pulled over his face and black pants. 

The report continued, “Be advised, the subject is a ‘spitter.’” 

Officers searched the area but did not locate the suspect initially. The suspect, Michael Granados, was later located in the Gelson’s Shopping Center at Monarch Bay Plaza. 

“While Granados was being detained, he kicked an officer in the lower leg. As Granados was being handcuffed, he postured as if he was going to spit on the officer but was unable to because the hood of his sweatshirt blocked him from doing so,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “As Granados was being seat belted in a police vehicle, he turned and spit on another officer.”

Granados was brought to the station, but he remained uncooperative according to Sgt Cota, and was taken directly to OC Jail. 

“He was transferred from a police unit to a jail van but he was able to spit again, which struck a jail supervisor on the forearm,” Sgt Cota said. 

According to LBPD arrest records, Michael Hector Granados, 34, Yorba Linda, was arrested for assault on a peace officer, battery, resisting an executive officer, resisting arrest, and a violation of probation 

No bail was set.

Police Files

Woman injured after being run over by her car

On Tuesday, Jan 29, at 12:45 p.m., LBPD and LBFD responded to the alley behind 730 N Coast Hwy for a report of an injury collision. 

“It was reported that the 50-year-old female got out of and was then run over by her vehicle,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “She was transported to Mission Hospital – Mission Viejo for abrasions and bruises.” 

LBFD Division Chief Api Weinert said, “Our Engine 1 responded to a report of medical aid. They made contact with the victim lying on the ground. She was apparently the driver of a vehicle and had gotten out of the vehicle. When she got out, she noticed the vehicle was rolling backwards. She attempted to get back in the vehicle but was unable to get back in. She sustained injuries due to getting caught between the vehicle and a wall.”

Chief Weinert added that this was a freak accident that could have happened to anybody.

“I’ve been trying to run to work every day, and the other day while I was running, I stumbled and fell on top of myself,” he said. “These types of accidents and weird things happen.”

Residents try to intervene as tree gets chopped down 

On Friday, Jan 25, at 11:08 a.m., at Eagle Rock Way and Virginia Way, LBPD received a report of someone “trying to stop the cutting down of a historic tree.” The police logs describe a “male with a chainsaw – unknown what company he is with. Four residents from the area are trying to stop him. RP is no longer on scene. Five work trucks.”

According to Cassie Walder, City Community Information Officer, the tree was ultimately removed on Wednesday, Jan 30, due to poor health.

 “The tree had been declining for some time and it was likely due to [the] combination of the drought stress, extreme compaction of the soil around the root zone, repeated topping of the canopy by SDG&E to keep it out of electric wires and potentially some root disturbance due to maintenance of adjacent pavement, mailbox, pole and retaining wall,” said Shohreh Dupuis, Assistant City Manager/Director of Public Works.

The tree was a Red Flowering Eucalyptus.

Emergency call centers to accept 9-1-1 text messages starting Feb 6

All Orange County first responder dispatch centers will begin accepting texts to 9-1-1 on February 6.

Text-to-911 is the ability to send a text message to reach 9-1-1 emergency call takers from your mobile phone or device. This service is aimed to assist people who are hearing impaired, or speech disabled, or someone who is in an emergency situation where calling 9-1-1 is not possible. Always contact 9-1-1 by making a voice call if you can.

Read more Police Files on our Front Page II – click here

Police Files (Cont.)

LBPD canine cop sniffs out 19 grams of heroin

On Sunday, Jan 27, at 3:22 p.m., an LBPD officer initiated a vehicle enforcement stop in the area of Cardinal Dr and S Coast Hwy. The driver was identified as Orange resident Athanasios Anagnostos, 47. 

Police Files AnagnostosA records check revealed he had an outstanding warrant. He was subsequently taken into custody. 

“During the contact, drug paraphernalia was observed. K-9 “Ranger” was utilized to search the vehicle and 19 grams of heroin was located,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “Anagnostos was charged with narcotic sales, transporting, and possession.”

According to multiple web sources, the average cost of heroin is $15-20 for a single dose (0.1g). 19 grams would be valued at between $2,850 and $3,800.

Bail was set at $55,100.

Reports of man smoking meth and pointing a rifle toward the hillside result in non-arrest

On Tuesday, Jan 29, at 4:07 p.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to the 20600 block of Laguna Canyon Rd. The call was in reference to a male allegedly inside a vehicle pointing a rifle toward the hillside. 

Detectives requested drone response. The drone and detectives surveilled the occupied vehicle.

“The male was observed possibly smoking methamphetamine. He noticed the drone, flipped it off, and drove away from the area towards El Toro Road. Officers stopped the vehicle near Greenfield Drive in Laguna Niguel,” Sgt Cota said. 

“The driver was identified as a former parolee. A DUI drug investigation was conducted and it was determined the suspect was not under the influence. The vehicle was searched and no guns were located. A report was taken.”

Read more Police Files on our Front Page I – click here

Police Files

Reunited and it feels so good – turtle finds its way back home

Last week in Animal Files, Stu News reported that a turtle had been found by Animal Services and was being cared for with the hope that its owner would read about it and find their wayward pet.

Good news…the turtle was reunited with its owner on Saturday, Jan 26, eight days after the turtle’s traveling trek began, after reading our story.

Police Files Turtle

Click on photo for a larger image 

Courtesy of LBPD

Lost and found, this turtle was reunited with his family thanks to Stu News article

 To reiterate the turtle trials, LBPD received a report on Monday, Jan 21 about a large turtle found on Friday, Jan 18, at 31600 Scenic Dr. 

According to Jim Beres, LBPD Civilian Services Administrator, “The turtle was found by an Animal Services Officer in the area of Monterey and Brooks Street. It is a red slider wood turtle.” 

Now the turtle is reported to be safe and sound with its family.

Driver arrested for meth placed at fault in 3-car collision

On Saturday, Jan 26, at 2:38 p.m., LBPD officers responded with LBFD to a traffic collision at Mountain Rd and S Coast Hwy. They arrived to the scene and found three vehicles involved but no injuries reported. 

“The vehicles were blocking the roadway and had to be towed from the scene. One of the parties, David Gilmore, was found to have methamphetamine, a narcotic pipe, and ultimately charged with driving while being addicted,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “He was also the party placed at fault.”

David Alan Gilmore, 30, of Santa Ana, was arrested on suspicion of DUI, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of unlawful paraphernalia.

Bail was set at $3,500.

Lyft driver reported to be “out of his mind” seems ok to LBPD

On Saturday, Jan 26, at 9:36 p.m., at S Coast Hwy and Vista del Sol, a woman called dispatchers to report that her Lyft driver was “out of his mind.” According to LBPD records, dispatchers could hear the driver yelling at the female to get out of the car. An officer responded to find the RP had left. 

“The driver advised that the female RP had keyed his car before she fled. The Lyft driver appeared to be acting normally,” said Sgt Cota. “The officers contacted the female by phone and she refused to return to the scene.”

 A vandalism report was taken and additional follow up will be needed by detectives.

More reports of meth on the streets of Laguna

On Thursday, Jan 24, at 12:33 pm, LBPD officers responded to a possible robbery that had just occurred in the area of Thalia St and S Coast Hwy. The alleged victim said that his friend hit him with a skateboard and took his wallet, which contained $100. They reportedly used to be friends. 

Once on scene, officers were able to gather a bit more information and learned the direction of travel and where the suspect likes to hang out. The suspect was located in the 100 block of Brooks St. The suspect was described to be a white male in his 20s wearing a grey sweatshirt and skinny grey shorts.

“After a lengthy investigation and some independent witness statements, it appears like the victim may have tried to get the suspect to do meth with him. The suspect grabbed the meth, put it into his coffee which destroyed it,” Sgt Cota said. “The victim appears to have become upset and possibly made a false report to get back at the suspect. A report was taken and the investigation is ongoing.”

Police Files (Cont.)

Elderly resident victimized in the bread aisle at Gelson’s

On Sunday, Jan 20, at 2:06 p.m., an elderly resident came to the LBPD station to report that her wallet was stolen while shopping at Gelson’s, at the 30900 block of S Coast Hwy. 

“She was approached by a male in the bread aisle. The male distracted her and asked her random questions about different bread types while another person removed her wallet from her purse. The victim’s credit cards were used at unknown locations,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said.

The victim is working with LBPD and will provide banking statements with further information. Her credit cards had already been used twice by the suspect by the time she reported the crime. The loss was estimated to be around $6,000.

Red slider wood turtle found on the lam

On Monday, Jan 21, at 12:09 p.m., LBPD received a report about a large turtle found on Friday, Jan 18, at 31600 Scenic Drive.

According to Jim Beres, LBPD Civilian Services Administrator, “The turtle was found by an Animal Services Officer in the area of Monterey and Brooks Street. It is a red slider wood turtle. The turtle is at the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter. The owner is unknown.”

Police Files Turtle

Click on photo for a larger image 

Courtesy of LBPD

Lost turtle is looking for his family

If you or anyone you know recognizes this trooper of a turtle, call Laguna Beach Animal Shelter at (949) 497-3552 or go to 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd.

Read more Police Files on our Front Page I – click here

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